Neonympha mitchellii francisci - Parshall and Kral, 1989
Mitchell's Satyr
Other English Common Names: Mitchell's satyr
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Neonympha mitchellii francisci Parshall and Kral, 1989 (TSN 779507)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.118683
Element Code: IILEPN3022
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Nymphalidae Neonympha
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Parshall, D., and T. Kral. 1989. A new subspecies of Neonympha mitchellii (French) Satyridae from North Carolina. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 43(2):114-119.
Concept Reference Code: A89PAR01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Neonympha mitchellii francisci
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2T1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Feb2009
Global Status Last Changed: 08Feb2009
Rounded Global Status: T1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This subspecies is known only from one military base where it exists as several metapopulations which could be considered one occurrence or several but fewer than eight. Inventory effort and understanding of habitat is sufficient now to indicate that few, if any, other occurrences exist, and most likely places have been checked. Both this and the nominate subspecies have been listed as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. This subspecies is well-studied and substantially protected due to listing under the Endangered Species Act, but its habitats are unstable. See also documentation for the full species.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (30Sep1998)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States North Carolina (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (26Jan1995)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Fort Bragg is about 250 square miles, of this about 100 square miles is in long leaf pine communities, and thie butterfly ranges through only a relatively small portion of this. See Kuefler et al. (2008)

Area of Occupancy: 1-5 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: 10 hectares total, in accessible areas roughly twice that total, but not all of this occupied in a given year.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: See the discussion in Kuefler et al. (2008). This could all be reasonably considered as one occurrence considering the proximity of the metapopulations to each other, or one could treat some of the metapopulations as separate occurrences; 31 colonies have been documented over more than a decade, but in any given year fewer habitats are occupied. These colonies are in eight small drainages. Some proximate or connected drainages probably would be considered together so it would be difficult to justify eight separate occurrences. The individual colonies are clearly not appropriate units for defining occurrences.

Population Size: 250 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: Cumulative population is around 700-1400 plus perhaps that many or more in habitats off limits to researchers, in most second generations. Less, but more than half as many, in the first brood. The appropriate estimate would be the less numerous first brood, and given inaccessibility of about half the sites, it is possible the total is under 1000 some years.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: See Recovery Plan and Kuefler et al. (2008). Cessation of management or decline of beavers would seem like the most likely threats.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Subpopulations fluctuate, sometimes to zero, but over all the metapopulation complex is shown to be stable.

Long-term Trend: Unknown
Long-term Trend Comments: There is no actual evidence that this subspecies ranged more widely, although it probably did. Regardless there is no basis to assess long term trend.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Habitats are dynamic and the essential processes that maintain them, mainly beavers and fires, are likely to be lethal to any individuals present in the affected area. The species is a good short distance colonizer.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: While substantial efforts have, to date, failed to locate populations elsewhere, efforts should continue, if likely areas can be identified.

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)) Fort Bragg is about 250 square miles, of this about 100 square miles is in long leaf pine communities, and thie butterfly ranges through only a relatively small portion of this. See Kuefler et al. (2008)

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States NC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Cumberland (37051), Hoke (37093)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A saytrine butterfly.
General Description: Parshall and Kral (1989) provide a detailed description of this subspecies.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Can be difficult to identify and should not be attempted by non-experts unless with careful consultation of original description or a good butterfly guide. Characters useful for the species will suffice for this subspecies. Best character for tentative field use is the underside eyespots which are always mostly very rounded and close together, whereas most individuals of N. areolatus septentrionalis (which occurs with francisci) have more elongated and more widely separated eyespots. A few septentrionalis run very close to francisci in eyespot shape. Steve Hall suggests that the following characters work well for field separation. On the hindwing beneath the orange postmedian band (beneath the eyespots) is much straighter, and also much duskier, on francisci than on septentrionalis, while the subterminal orange band (just beyond the eyespots) and the terminal band are not dusky and therefore much brighter than the postmedian band. In septentrionalis all of these bands are of similar intensity. While it is not a useful field character, he also notes that usually at least some of the hindwing eyspots have a small amount of yellow (which may be connected to the outer yellow ring) within the "pupil". Despite statements in some older books the presence or absence of eyespots on the underside of the forewing is of very little value in separating these species.
Ecology Comments: Apparently presently occurs in low densities, probably about 100 adults a year or less. Two annual generations seem to be similar in numbers. Habitat depends on a delicate balance of disturbance factors.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Basically a weak flier and fairly sedentary. However some dispersal does occur, although distances involved are poorly known. Probably very rarely wanders more than a kilometer.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND
Habitat Comments: Known only from a few sedge wetlands in close proximity. Habitat apparently open seepage areas dominated with Carex. Habitat is successsional or disclimax with both beaver and fires being apparently critical factors in maintaining it.
Adult Food Habits: Unknown
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Adult food habits not really known. Larva probably feeds on Carex but this is not established. Oviposition has been observed on a small Panicum grass.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Flight dates for this subspecies are early May to early June, and late July to late August (two broods) (Parshall and Kral, 1989). Hall reports similar dates.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Foodplant still needs to be verified.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: PRESENCE: A diagnostic photograph or specimen is needed to confirm the presence of this butterfly due to confusion with Georgia satyrs (Neonympha areolata or N. helicta), which occur sympatrically with N. m. francisci, sight records cannot be relied upon. Collection of a voucher specimen can only be done under federal permit, since this is an Endangered Species.

DEMES: Given the fact that dispersing individuals are frequently observed well away from the sites of breeding habitat, the observation of an individual, by itself, does not denote the presence of a colony (deme) at that site. For a deme to be demonstrated, multiple individuals must be observable on any visit to the site during the middle portion of the two flight periods and under good observation conditions temperatures in the mid 70s to low 90s, low wind, moderate to no cloud cover, no precipitation to slight drizzle. Other butterflies should also be easily observable the most frequently seen species in the vicinity of francisci colony sites are: Hermeuptychia sosybius, Satyrodes appalachia, Megisto cymele, and Ancyloxpha numitor. Observations of mated pairs, oviposting females, or patrolling males are all good indicators that a deme exists at a particular site. In addition to direct observations, suitable habitat should also be present, particularly mucky, Carex rich mires associated with abandoned beaver ponds or old, filled in borrow pits. Occasionally, individuals are frequently seen in small satellite areas in the vicinity of the main colony sites, so additional efforts should be made to look for the main colonies whenever the habitat appears to support only a small number of sedge clumps. The main colony sites usually cover at least 500 sq meters of semi open habitat, often with Carex mitchelliana one of the dominant species in the herb layer.

SUB META POPULATIONS: A single deme rarely, if ever, exists on its own; typically, demes are clustered within a single headwater stream drainage and are often located on several different branches within that drainage. All such demes, particularly located within 1 2 stream km of one another should be considered a single EO. Where multiple headwater drainages are occupied, each of the individual drainage metapopulations should be trearted as a Sub EO.

PRINCIPAL META POPULATIONS: At Fort Bragg, the site of the only known population of this species, the watershed level metapopulations are clustered together, forming a larger regional metapopulation. Since we have some evidence that inter wateshed movements take place at least occasionally, we treat the entire cluster of metapopulations as a single, Principal EO.

Mapping Guidance: DEMES: The location of breeding colonies should be mapped according to the extent of suitable habitat, including both open meadows and semi open, Carex rich galleries running into swamp forests.

WATERSHED METAPOPULATIONS: All demes within a particular headwater stream watershed should be grouped together as a single Sub EO. Only the habitat actually occupied by the demes should be included, however, forming a constellation of disjunct patches.

REGIONAL METAPOPULATIONS: All watershed level metapopulations located within 2 km of one another across single intervening ridges should be grouped together as one overall metapopulation. Again, only the habitats occupied by the individual demes at the lowest level should be delineated, forming a larger constellation of disjunct patches.

DISPERSAL CORRIDORS: Areas of riparian vegetation between demes can be mapped as linear source features representing dispersal corridors, particularly where dispersing individuals have been seen using these routes. These should be designated as a separate use type from the habitat patches occupied by the demes.

Separation Barriers: While breeding habitat for this species consists of open to semi open meadows and glades, dispersing individuals have been frequently observed flying through closed canopy swamp forest and densely shrubby streamhead pocosins. Dispersing individuals show a strong tendency to fly along the course of stream valleys, staying within riparian vegetation; from focal animal studies within the breeding sites, individuals virtually always turn back into the colony site once they reach the edge of the wetlands. From these observations, we strongly suspect that extensive areas of dry, open habitats dominated by longleaf pine and wiregrass are normally avoided. However, these habitats may not constitute absolute barriers to dispersal, since we have observed at least one inter drainage dispersal event, where the shortest distance of travel would have involved movement over an intervening ridge. From the structure of the overall metapopulation at Fort Bragg, some movement across a divide between two river sub basins must occur at least occasionally.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: Separation distances must be considered at several different levels.

BETWEEN DEMES: Demes within a single watershed are typically located 200 500 meters apart, with at least some examples located as much as 2 stream km from one another. These distances serve to divide the watershed populations into a series of distinct demes, within which breeding takes place more commonly than between them.

BETWEEN WATERSHEDS: Clusters of demes within a single headwater drainage probably constitute sub metapopulations, with all member demes being connected by continuous strips of riparian vegetation. These units are separted from other units at the same level by drier ridges or, at the mouths of the drainages, by broader areas of swamp forest. All of the occupied watersheds at Fort Bragg are clustered together, separated by only 2 3 km across unsuitable, drier ridgetop habitats.

Separation Justification: This species has now been subject to several intensive behavioral, ecological, and demographic studies over the past 15 years. Knowledge of the movement behavior of N. m. francisci is based on focal animal studies, mark recapture studies, and occasional observations of dispersing individuals located up to 2.5 km from the nearest known colony sites.
Date: 14Sep2007
Author: Stephen Hall
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: PRINCIPAL EO: A multi tiered metapopulation occupying a region that covers 200 sq km or more and supports active disturbance regimes, particularly beaver activity. This regional metapopulation is composed of a cluster of six or more sub metapopulations, each associated with an individual headwater stream drainage (14 digit USGS Hydrological Unit). This cluster may itself be divided into two or more river sub basins (as at Fort Bragg), although this may be less critical than the overall clustering of headwater metapopulations. The majority of the headwater should themselves represent A level sub EOs, each capable of persisting for fifteen to twenty years.

SUB EO: A headwater metapopulation composed of at least four or five demes located on two or more sister tributaries.

Good Viability: PRINCIPAL EO: A multi tiered metapopulation occupying a region that covers 100 sq km or more and supports active disturbance regimes, particularly beaver activity. This regional metapopulation is composed of a cluster of three or more sub metapopulations, each associated with an individual headwater stream drainage (14 digit USGS Hydrological Unit). The majority of the headwater metapopulations should themselves represent A level sub EOs, each capable of persisting for fifteen to twenty years.

SUB EO: A single headwater metapopulation composed of only a few demes all located along a single channel.

Fair Viability: PRINCIPAL EO: A single headwater metapopulation composed of at least four or five demes located on two or more sister tributaries.

SUB EO: A single deme isolated within a single watershed, but where other watershed metapopulations exist nearby. C level viability is achieved primarily due to the "rescue effect" from neighboring watersheds but may also be due, in some cases, to site related features such as the large size and stability of the sedge mire habitat.

Poor Viability: PRINCIPAL EO: A single headwater metapopulation composed of only a few demes all located along a single channel.

SUB EO: Probably no single deme is capable of surviving for very long in complete isolation from others. However, there may be exceptional cases where habitat stability may allow a population to exist for up to twenty years. Such circumstances in the Sandhills of North Carolina probably only pertain to certain artificially created wetlands particularly borrow pits where natural disturbances, including both beaver activity and fire, are suppressed. Under those circumstances, a colony may last as long as it takes for succession to make the site unsuitable, a process which may take as long as twenty years in the Sandhills. The colonies originally discovered in 1983 by Thomas Kral appear to fit this description, and one has now been abandoned apparently due to succession. Under a more natural disturbance regime, single colonies are not likely to last that long before the site is either burned or beavers re-impound it.

Justification: Only a single principal EO is known for this butterfly. Specifications for an A level occurrence are based on the population features actually observed; the specs for the other levels are more conjectural. We base the A level rank for this population on both its continuous history of occupation of certain watersheds at Fort Bragg over the past 15 years the ones we have had access to since 1992 and on its likely continuous existence within the region of the Sandhills now occupied by Fort Bragg for at least the past several hundred years. Along with several other species of animals and plants, the population of Saint Francis's Satyr at Fort Bragg appears to be a relict from the time when beaver created wetlands were dominant features of the landscape over most of eastern North America. The persistence of these species in this particular area of the Sandhills is probably due to the combination of factors that we have included in the A Rank Specifications, particularly the size of the occupied area and the topographic features that allow it to be spread over two river sub basins and multiple headwater streams, all located within distances within the dispersal range of this species. While the total number of butterflies produced per year undoubtedly has some effect on emigration rates, and thus, on overall metapopulation cohesion, absolute population estimates are hard to come by for this species although highly amenable to Mark Recapture studies, at least half of the population has been completely off limits to study over the past 10 years, due to the location of many occupied watersheds within the impact areas used on base for artillery training. In any case, the viability of this butterfly appears to be much more strongly related to population structure. In a very dynamic environment and due to the combination of fire, beaver activity, and military training, Fort Bragg has one of the most dynamic of any in the Southeast the persistence of individual demes (colonies) is of much less significance than the persistence of the larger metapopulations. Whereas we have watched colonies both come and go with some regularity over the past 15 years, the watershed level metapopulations originally found between 1983 and 1993 are all still extant.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 14Sep2007
Author: Stephen Hall
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 06Feb2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D. F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 25Feb1991
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): SCHWEITZER, D. F.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Kuefler, D., N. M. Haddad, S. Hall, B. Hudgens, B. Bartel, and E. Hoffman. 2008. Distribution, population structure and habitat use of the endangered Saint Francis Satyr Butterfly, Neonympha mitchellii francisci. American Midland Naturalist 159:298-320.

  • Opler, P. A., and A. D. Warren. 2002. Butterflies of North America. 2. Scientific Names List for Butterfly Species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.

  • Parshall, D., and T. Kral. 1989. A new subspecies of Neonympha mitchellii (French) Satyridae from North Carolina. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 43(2):114-119.

  • Pelham, J. P. 2008. A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada with a complete bibliography of the descriptive and systematic literature. The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. Volume 40. 658 pp. Revised 14 February, 2012.

  • Schweitzer, D. F., M. C. Minno, and D. L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, declining, and poorly known butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of forests and woodlands in the eastern United States. USFS Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Technology Transfer Bulletin FHTET-2011-01. 517 pp.

  • Schweitzer, D.F. 1989. A review of Category 2 Insecta in USFWS regions 3, 4, 5. Prepared for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1994. Emergency Rule to list the Saint Francis' Satyr [Neonympha mitchellii francisci] as Endangered. Federal Register 59(74):18324-18327.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1994. Proposed Rule to list the Saint Francis' Satyr [Neonympha mitchellii francisci] as Endangered. Federal Register 59(74):18350-18353.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS. 1996. Saint Francis' Satyr Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. 27 pp.

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